Gray skies and gusty winds haven't been the only thing to make January an abysmal month in Columbus. For over a decade now, the first month of the year has been the source of some major recruiting woes. In fact, it was something that marked the Tressel era. Big Ten titles, BCS bowls and poor finishes on the recruiting front became an annual tradition for Buckeye Nation.
Some of you may remember the 2007 recruiting class. Looking back it was a vastly underrated class with guys like Cam Heyward, Brian Rolle, Dane Sanzenbacher, and Boom Herron in it. Still, the close to that class in January was a heartbreaking one for Buckeye fans. That year, there were three big names in OT Anthony Davis, OL/DL Joseph Barksdale and DE Ben Martin that the Buckeyes were fighting for as signing day approached. Many insiders were pointing to all three being Buckeye leans at one point as well. When the dust settled though, Davis chose Rutgers, Barksdale went to LSU, and Ben Martin headed to Tennessee. Davis and Barksdale went onto become big time offensive lineman, which really hurts when you realize that Evan Blankenship was the only offensive line commit in that class.
A similar storyline happened in 2010, a class that upon looking back has been full of disappointed for Ohio State. Don't believe me, go back and look. Anyway, that year the Buckeyes lost out on a handful of prospects that they were battling for late in the process. Sharriff Floyd picked Florida, Seantreal Henderson chose Miami, Jordan Hicks went to Texas, Matt James headed to Notre Dame, and Chaz Green also picked Florida. Three of those guys were offensive lineman, and just like in 2007, missing them caused Tressel and company to only sign one offensive lineman in Andrew Norwell.
It's also interesting, that it was Urban Meyer that plucked Floyd and Green away from the Buckeyes, something that along with the national championship beat down made him a hated man before coming to Columbus. In fact, many Buckeye fans will never forget the "God told me in a dream" story.
The other issue with Tressel's approach was that sometimes he desperately needed these guys. Some of his January misses were covered up by commitments early in the process, but at times like in '07 and '10, missing these guys put the Buckeyes in a terrible position in terms of depth. Either Tressel needed to quit depending on these guys to head his way late in the process and offer more guys, or he needed to change the way he recruited them.
Now, I'm not trying to take anything away from Tressel as a recruiter. He was a good one and brought in a bevy of talent during his tenure at Ohio State. Instead, I want to point out that one his recruiting weaknesses will be corrected by Urban Meyer moving forward. Meyer has proven himself as a great closer and has done a lot of his damage in January and February in the past. In fact, let's take a look at his last three classes at Florida as an example.
In the 2008 class, Meyer and his staff got commitments from 10 guys after December. Using Scout.com as a reference, two of those guys were five star rated players, and four more were rated as four star players. In 2009, he brought in six post-December commitments. While that year didn't see a large quantity of late commitments, Meyer did bring in some major players. Three of those commits were five star players. Then in 2010, Meyer reeled in 10 guys again after December in that class, including Sharriff Floyd and Chaz Green. Amazingly, six of those guys were five star rated players, as well as another being ranked as a four star. To put that in perspective, Ohio State only signed 11 guys total during that three year period, with only one guy being ranked as a five star (Terrelle Pryor).
Meyer is a definitely a closer and is going to turn the tide of Ohio State's January blues, something hopefully fans will get a chance to see that first hand this year. The Buckeyes still have some very big needs and the staff got a late start, but they are after more guys with three weeks left until signing day than I remember the former staff pursuing in an entire calender year. Unlike in previous years, this staff is not going to get caught being thin at a position because one or two guys head elsewhere.
So buckle up and prepare for an exciting few weeks. Unlike in the past, this month doesn't spell recruiting nightmare. Here's the best part: just wait until this time next year when Urban and the staff have had an entire year to recruit. It's scary to think about!